Last year, on Super Bowl weekend, I took 20 high school students to a Model UN conference in Chicago. I wrote about our stay in the historical Palmer Hotel. Although you may not be able to tell by my post, that trip was incredibly stressful with the weight of responsibility for the lives of 20 students travelling safely to and from the conference on the Megabus (21 on the way back – kind of). When we returned my principal made a joke about how I had been in parenting training. I thought “There’s no way that parenting one child could be as difficult as wrangling 20 teenagers in a new city.”
How blissful my ignorance was!
Our baby arrived three weeks ago, at 4 am on a on a very cold and rainy morning after about 16 hours of labor. He is amazing and he smells SO GOOD. I had never really thought about it before, but I have certainly become that person on your Facebook feed who posts at least one picture of my newborn every single day. It’s not my fault he’s so damn cute (okay, it is half my fault).
The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of crazy emotions and identity adjustments and challenges I never realized were possible or that I’d care so much about. I have been struggling to find a connection to my great-grandmas to blog about but nothing seems significant enough to capture this experience.
Ultimately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how lucky we are to live in a modern era, with access to medical care, vaccines, support and community resources, every gadget under the sun to make life a little bit easier, and most especially, disposable diapers. And yet, there is something lost in having so much access and information.
At a breastfeeding group I went to last week, one of the moms said that the push for formula in the mid-20th century created a void of experience with breastfeeding from which we are still trying to recover. And the support among women has changed to accommodate full-time work. No longer is a new mom surrounded by all the women and girls in her family for the first month of her “confinement” (as Lena refers to it), being cared for, coached, advised, and supported. While I am a fan of being able to look up what the AAP has to say about things like pacifiers, I find it more assuring and helpful to ask the advice of moms I know. The internet has lots of information but does little to provide emotional and social support. And being home alone with a newborn for the first time is uniquely terrifying. (“Is he breathing?” “Why is he crying?” “Oh my god is he choking or sneezing??” “His hand feels cold – WHY DOES HIS HAND FEEL COLD??” “Is he breathing?” “Why does he keep sticking his razor sharp fingernails in his eye?” “WHY WON’T YOU SLEEP?” “IS HE BREATHING?!?”)
So perhaps, these past three weeks, I’ve been living like great grandma by tapping my network of moms. I feel connected to the moms in my life like never before and have learned so much about the challenges they went through in their own experiences as first time moms. The more I’ve talked with the women in my life, the more I have discovered that the challenges moms face are universal, even when the circumstances are unique to each family. Which makes me feel connected to my great grandmas too.
That trip with the students last year was nerve-wracking and afterwards I had learned that I did not want to lead a trip with students on my own again. After TR was born, I learned that I will never be the same person again. And I’m totally cool with that.